Cam­paign­ers de­mand fairer postal prices be­fore Christ­mas rush

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - FRONT PAGE - By Stu­art Find­lay SFINDLAY@SUN­DAY­POST.COM

hou­sands of Scots are likely to pay a post­code penalty as they order Christ­mas pre­sents on­line.

Anal­y­sis from Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land (CAS) sug­gests a mil­lion Scots live in ar­eas that are charged ex­tra for de­liv­ery.

Is­lan­ders are used to be­ing charged ex­tra but the prob­lem has ex­tended to swathes of the main­land, across the High­lands, Mo­ray, Perthshire and Aberdeen­shire.

Nina Bal­lan­tyne from CAS said: “Con­sumers are fed up pay­ing ex­tra for de­liv­ery based on where they live.

“More than 20% of Scot­land’s pop­u­la­tion live in ar­eas af­fected by this, with the av­er­age price charged at least 30% higher than for other ar­eas of the UK.

“In the run-up to Christ­mas peo­ple are likely to be buy­ing more on­line, so the im­pact could be even greater.

“We are work­ing with govern­ments, de­liv­ery com­pa­nies and con­sumer part­ner­ships across the UK to find so­lu­tions that could re­duce de­liv­ery sur­charges for con­sumers.”

Last month, Lloyds Phar­macy changed their pol­icy af­ter it emerged they had asked for an ex­tra £ 50 to de­liver a mo­bil­ity scooter to ter­mi­nal­ly­ill Jean Boyle in Keith, Mo­ray, de­spite ad­ver­tis­ing free de­liv­ery to the UK main­land.

If she had lived in Aberdeen­shire, just 10 miles away, it would’ve been free.

Politi­cians like In­ver­ness, Nairn, Bade­noch and Strath­spey MP Drew Hendry and Mo­ray MSP Richard Lochhead have spent years try­ing to bring an end to the un­fair charges.

Mr Lochhead made a call for new leg­is­la­tion af­ter one of his con­stituents was quoted a £60 de­liv­ery charge for a £8.99 item ear­lier this month.

But a spokes­woman for the UK Gov­ern­ment depart­ment for busi­ness, en­ergy and in­dus­trial strat­egy said de­liv­ery fees should re­main a “com­mer­cial mat­ter” with­out reg­u­la­tion.

Ken Low­son, 69, from Fochabers, Mo­ray was Mr Lochhead’s con­stituent who was quoted the in­flated charge.

The prod­uct was a sim­ple at­tach­ment for a power washer and al­though stan­dard de­liv­ery was quoted for UK main­land cus­tomers at £6.49, there was a special ex­cep­tion for par­tic­u­lar post­codes. His story is far from unique. One con­sumer was told to stump a £19.99 sur­charge for a pair of safety gloves be­ing sent to Cro­marty on the Black Isle be­cause of a UK-wide con­tract with FedEx which in­sisted on it, even though the gloves were com­ing from Aberdeen-based com­pany Arco.

An In­ver­ness school worker was quoted £499 for de­liv­er­ing rub­ber chips for a play­ground to the High­land cap­i­tal by on­line re­tailer Crumbz.

It would only cost £199 for non-High­land ad­dresses, mak­ing it cheaper to have it de­liv­ered to For­res, Mo­ray, and then ship­ping it across.

Mr Hendry said: “The shock that many find of or­der­ing goods on­line marked as free or stan­dard de­liv­ery and then get­ting stung with a big ad­di­tional fee is an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence.

“Too many com­pa­nies are us­ing ru­ral area post­codes as an ex­cuse to ramp up charges, with ex­cess charges of be­tween £5 and £100 com­monly re­ported to me.

“Peo­ple rightly feel these charges are a rip-off. It’s time to end the ex­cuses, the un­fair­ness and the dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“The UK Gov­ern­ment needs to act to make it im­pos­si­ble for com­pa­nies to act in this way.”

I got a de­liv­ery charge of £60. The part only cost £8.99

Ken Low­son

Up to a mil­lion Scots are af­fected by higher de­liv­ery charges

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